Horizon Europe grant for the Business Management & Organisation group

Published on
July 22, 2022

The BEATLES project, which stands for for Co-Creating Behavioral Change Toward Climate Smart Agriculture, investigates how entire agrifood value chains can shift towards sustainable agriculture by looking at which factors affect behaviour. Social experimental research will be undertaken, both in lab and field experiments. Based upon the findings project BEATLES will propose behavioural intentions, business models, and policy recommendations that will foster the transition towards viable climate-smart agricultural solutions. Eightteen organisations join forces in the European project, including the Business Management & Organisation group of Wageningen University & Research. Five use cases will be studied during the project with the aim to develop transformative pathways to encourage transition to fair, healthy and environment-friendly food systems. The use cases represent the major crop and livestock farming systems in Europe: cereals, dairy, stone fruits, livestock, and vegetables. The use cases are spread out over various regions in Europe to account for the diversity in agri-food systems and conditions in the European Union.

The Business Management & Organisation group (BMO) takes a co-leading position together with Wageningen Economic Research to identify sets of business strategies for establishing roadmaps towards climate-smart agriculture. The BMO group has received a €309.000 grant from the European Union’s funding programme Horizon Europe. Project BEATLES has responded to the call Uncovering lock-ins and levers to encourage farmers to move to and stay in sustainable, climate-neutral and biodiversity-friendly farming systems: from experiments to systemic mechanisms (HORIZON-CL6-2021-FARM2FORK-01-08)

In this project BMO will:

  • Collaborate with diverse sets of companies and research institutes in the duration of the projects to better understand factors that affect entire agrifood value chain behavioural shifts towards sustainable agriculture,
  • Closely, work with five innovative use cases and their stakeholders to explore needs to develop value propositions and strategies that establish fairness for all value chain factors,
  • Co-design alternative business models together with stakeholders by identifying changes that should be implemented for the transition towards climate-smart food systems,
  • Develop and validate a portfolio of innovative business models.

Maral Mahdad of the Business Management & Organisation group explains the research approach in further detail. “In the first phase of the project we look at technological, individual, and behavioural hurdles that prevent farmers from adopting technologies that help them to farm in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way” says Maral. “However, only understanding what the challenges are for farmers to adopt new technologies is not enough. In the next phase of the project we bring stakeholders together to talk about the changes that are needed. As scholars, we listen to them to hear what is needed to be implemented in businesses models that will allow them to make the transition. The sessions focus on co-creation with the stakeholders.” One aim of the collaboration is to create fair business models in the food value chain. Besides that, Maral says that it is also important that the business models are unique. “I believe that a one size fits all approach does not work. Rather than creating one template we should share skills, perspectives, and outlooks of what others have achieved. This can inspire people.”

Besides working with stakeholders in the food value chain there will also be interactions with policy makers. “We do not just aim to help farmers with new business models that help them to adapt to the transition they are experiencing” says Maral. “We also aim to translate our findings to the level of policy makers. The policy experts in the project group will come up with recommendations for policy makers. They can take the outcomes of the project into consideration when they make new policies. In this way policy makers can help famers to make the transition to sustainable agriculture, by helping them to adopt new technologies.”